Hilfenhaus stuns West Indies top order
Tea West Indies 449 for 9 dec and 4 for 3 (Hilfenhaus 3-2) lead Australia 406 for 9 dec (Harris 68*, Lyon 40*, Roach 3-72) by 47 runs
Ben Hilfenhaus stunned West Indies by removing their top three batsmen in quick succession as Australia turned the match dramatically in their favour on the fourth day. Michael Clarke's bold decision to declare behind after some vigorous tail-wagging led by Ryan Harris was immediately justified as Hilfenhaus scythed through the West Indies top order and an Australian victory suddenly loomed as a distinct possibility after three days of West Indian dominance.
At tea, West Indies were 4 for 3 and there was some serious regrouping required, with Darren Bravo yet to score and about to be joined by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the best man West Indies could possibly have at the crease in such a situation. They had just lost Kirk Edwards from what turned out to the final ball before the break when he was adjudged lbw to Hilfenhaus, and even a review of Ian Gould's decision could not save him.
Edwards had already survived a close call when he edged to second slip off Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting took the ball low to the ground diving to his right, but replays could not confirm whether the ball had touched the ground. Already West Indies had lost Adrian Barath and Kraigg Brathwaite, who both fell in the third over as Hilfenhaus delivered precisely what his captain required.
Barath was bowled by a ball that looked like swinging away but straightened back in towards him at the last minute, and Brathwaite edged behind playing an uncharacteristically aggressive stroke. Brathwaite's edge was so thin that Gould did not appear likely to give him out, but the batsman walked and gave Hilfenhaus his second wicket in three balls.
Australia could not have hoped for a better start after Clarke's declaration 43 runs behind. The Australian lower order had provided major frustrations for West Indies, especially Harris, who finished unbeaten on 68, and the No.11 Nathan Lyon, who remained not out on 40. They had put on 77 for the final wicket and could have batted on further, but Clarke wasn't convinced a draw was the best outcome Australia could manage.
Australia added 40 runs after lunch and the innings was nearly brought to an end with the score at 391 when Harris was given out lbw to Fidel Edwards for 66. But with a review up his sleeve, Harris asked for the third umpire to check Gould's on-field decision and the replay showed the ball would have sailed over the top of the stumps.
There were precious few other opportunities for West Indies as their heads bowed and shoulders slumped during the final partnership, the second-highest tenth-wicket stand ever by an Australian pair against West Indies. Things had started perfectly for West Indies as they took the new ball in the first over of the day and quickly had Michael Hussey back in the dressing room having added only one to his overnight score.
Hussey pushed forward at a Kemar Roach delivery that angled across him and his edge was well taken by Carlton Baugh low to his left. Peter Siddle followed for 0 when he ducked a shortish delivery from Fidel Edwards and gloved a catch to gully, and Australia were 250 for 7. Matthew Wade and Harris added 35 for the eighth wicket and both men played some promising shots but Wade's patience eventually deserted him and he drove expansively at Edwards and edged to slip for 28 from 97 deliveries.
Ben Hilfenhaus provided some entertainment with five boundaries in his 24, an innings that ended when he tried to whack Roach over midwicket and lost his middle stump. But it wasn't the end for the Australian lower order as Harris and Lyon's partnership reached 37 at lunch, both men having played some impressive strokes and they were particularly good at driving when the bowlers overpitched..
Harris struck seven boundaries and brought up his half-century from his 76th ball with a clip through midwicket, and his determination was evident in his celebration as he gritted his teeth and settled in for some more batting. Lyon also played some strong drives and brought up his highest first-class score.
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